Men are stupid; like women who are 'effortlessly' thin

Olivia Wilde eats fries and drinks beer every day and looks like Olivia Wilde — what’s your problem?

We all know men like a natural look over a “fake” one, meaning they like their women to look like 19 year old hairless cats with boobs, but without trying. They don’t want to see you ripping hair out of your asshole or to know how long it takes to exfoliate your entire body, daily, or be aware of the layers of makeup it takes to hide pores — they just want the end result: Olivia Wilde in Drinking Buddies. They want you to have a pudge-free waist (But don’t worry! Some of them are temporarily ok with you having fat on your ass, but only until Nicki Minaj and Christina Hendricks stop being trendy —  progress!) while simultaneously eating whatever the fuck you want all the time.

This is, in large part, because men are dummies who live inside a fantasy world of their own creation. You can see how invested they are in these worlds when you try to tell them that the women they are jacking off to in porn aren’t really enjoying themselves, that we don’t shave our vaginas because we love the feel of it (who doesn’t love a nice, itchy crotch-rash amirite ladies?), that women don’t get breast implants “for themselves,” or that Beyoncé has to exercise like crazy and maintain a super strict diet in order to achieve what most men like to pretend is a more “natural” look because she has thighs and a booty (and, gawd, thighs are a relief after all that thigh-gap bullshit we witnessed in recent years, but the mere existence of thighs does not necessarily mean there is no obsessive body-monitering behind said thighs).

At least Bey admits she has to work at it, telling Self, back in 2009, “I can’t eat what I want, and I can’t not go to the gym.” I mean, most celebrities, whether they admit to it or not, don’t eat or drink fun things and have ridiculous workout regimes most humans don’t have the time, interest, money or ability to maintain. Madonna doesn’t eat wheat, eggs, meats, or dairy. Kim Kardashian, who made the internet cream itself last week by turning her behind into a greasy tabletop, went on a “liquid diet” in order to lose weight, works out every day, and also doesn’t eat bread.

The truth is that this lifestyle would have to be reality for most women if their bodies were literally their product. And still the reality for most women is that we don’t eat whatever we want (granted, if I ate whatever I wanted I would be living on Pizza Pops, Twinkies and grilled cheese sandwiches and would probably be too depressed and lazy to think or function — never mind the weight/body implications of that kind of diet…). We do have to work at it, despite the fact that apparently that isn’t attractive to bros.

Lauren Bans wrote for The Cut today that no woman (herself included) wants to be “the girl on a diet”:

I’ve known smart women who’ve gone to extremes to hide the fact that they have to work for their figure. I’ve been one of them. I once got out of sharing bread pudding on a date by saying that the sight of it made me sad because it was served at my grandpa’s shiva… I have a friend who doesn’t put anything in her mouth on days when she has a date, so she can go out and eat with gusto in front of a new dude. Because members of the male species in particular seem to be put off and sometimes downright confused by dieting.

Bans asked some of her male friends how they’d feel about dating “someone on an ultrahealthy diet” (i.e. the kind of diet one would have to go on in order to look like 99 per cent of women we see on TV and in magazines) and one of them responded by saying: “I’m a foodie! I’d like it more if she just eats like a normal person and enjoys food as much as I do.” Oh do you? Do you also really like it when women are always “up for it,” come every time you wave your dick at them, really love watching porn and hanging out at burlesque shows, and never bore you by expressing their own needs and interests?

Fuck off with this “I like a girl who eats” shit. That’s what all men say. Because, as we discussed earlier, men are dummies who live in fantasy worlds that look something Game of Thrones porn crossed with King of Queens.

Bans speculates that this illusion may exist because men don’t have to work as hard as women to lose weight so maybe they don’t quite get it. But whether or not that is true, the reality is that men just don’t want to get it. The fantasy Bans describes, illustrated by a Carl’s Jr. commercial that features model Kate Upton eating a cheeseburger that looks like a Simpsons parody, is part and parcel of the world men have created for themselves. The ad itself is less an ad for a burger than it is pornography. Like, yeah, Upton would never eat that burger — neither would I — but also the character Upton is playing in the ad is just your run-of-the-mill male porn fantasy.

Upton’s permitted to “eat whatever she wants” because she’s still objectifiable.

Bans writes that, while the Upton fantasy (both the porn one and the eating a Carl’s Jr. burger one) is acceptable, were “an overweight woman” to do the same thing, it’s more likely she would be met with “a creep video of herself uploaded to YouTube for the teenage boys of the world to mock.”

Even what we eat can’t be “for us.”

I’ll admit I hate the trend of young, very thin women uploading photos of themselves eating (or implying they are eating) chicken and waffles or an entire pizza because I’m always thinking, like, who are you trying to convince? And why? It’s just yet another male fantasy we’re feeding. I guess I should go Instagram my love handles next to the salami and cheese dinner I’m eating right now to even things out…

While I can’t fault women for participating in a selfie-slash-porn culture they didn’t choose, I also don’t feel it’s particularly helpful to play the woke up like dis game. Going to crazy extremes to achieve some kind of “perfect” body isn’t the greatest use of our time and energy as women, but it feels even worse to pretend as though it’s all effortless. Or to feed the fantasy that says women simply don’t have body hair or pores or that we eat poutine on the regular but also have no body fat. I know all women’s bodies are different and that, yes, there are a few women who are naturally thin or even naturally model-like in their appearances, but the majority don’t live on beer and pizza whilst also maintaining what women’s magazines have helpfully dubbed a “bikini body” (it’s like a body, but less “human” than “mannequin” and only for looking at because if you have stomach fat, you obviously shouldn’t get to enjoy things like “oceans” or “outside.”).

So yeah, nobody wants to be “the girl on the diet,” but as someone who really enjoys disrupting male fantasies with tales of ingrown hairs and Spanx, I’m kinda for being real about the extent to which women feel they have to work to get that “natural look” the boys are so fond of.

 

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Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Naida

    so much yes. And they condemn you for wearing make up, but want your skin to be flawless, your lashes long, your eyebrows perfectly shaped etc. Who the fuck can live up to that “get out of bed and look like a porn star and at the same time girl next door”-standard?

  • Sabine

    Yes to everything you say here Meghan! I worked with somebody many years ago who said her live-in boyfriend of seven or eight years had NEVER seen her without makeup. EVER. She would get up extra early before him and apply full makeup before he woke up. She just could not bear the idea of him seeing her “naked” in that way. She had taken this upon herself and was not pressured by him as an individual to do this but she was very obviously (as we women all are) massively pressured by society to always appear “desirable for her man”. Women need to wake up fast and stop contributing to this bullshit: the men will just have to fucking deal with the fact we have bodies as real and “imperfect” as theirs. We are not mythical creatures who defy the laws of nature and I so wish women would stop contributing to this juvenile, porny fantasy!!! I totally understand why they are doing this but they are seriously doing a major disservice to themselves and all women by perpetuating the lie that they are “effortlessly perfect”. Every guy I’ve ever been out with has had stretch-marks but when do we EVER hear about products aimed at men to get rid of them? And do you think they cared? They didn’t even notice they existed! I did, having been trained to spot one from a hundred paces! But I couldn’t have cared less either. Why are there so many gossip rags showing celebrities looking rough? (ALWAYS women!) – because women feel so fucking relieved when they are reminded it’s just a fantasy they snap those magazines up! Talk about major cognitive dissonance…

    • Missfit

      Haha, I remember I once said ‘men have stretch-marks?’ after I noticed they did; I thought it was only a woman thing. I never heard of men having them (for the obvious reason that when it’s on men, it is not considered a problem, so not worth mentioning).

      ‘Women need to wake up fast and stop contributing to this bullshit: the men will just have to fucking deal with the fact we have bodies as real and “imperfect” as theirs.’

      Men waking up to this fact will be harder and difficult for them as they get to consume more and more false/retouched images of objectified women. This is unprecedented in human history and certainly have an effect on people’s brains and perceptions.

      Women will have to get out of this train, you’re right. It is time women put some of the pressure on men. I remember a previous article here where it was said that young women felt pressured to have anal sex lest they couldn’t get/keep a boyfriend. It’s time to turn the tide and have men feel that THEY wouldn’t be able to get/keep a girlfriend if they insist on anal sex. That they would end up alone if they expect a ‘perfect’ body, because women are not depriving/modifying themselves anymore to keep up with their fantasy world. As it is now, men feel entitled while women feel they don’t measure up. While truly, it is men who mostly don’t measure up (to minimun standard of decency, like : respect women as equal human beings!).

      Seriously you have to wonder, what do men have to offer that deserve all the efforts/pain women go through? If we do a costs vs benefits analysis, I don’t see women having much to gain. Love in this context is not authentic. Women can now access financial autonomy. Women can turn to other women for deep friendship and care. Sex? Again, costs vs benefits says we lose there too, especially compared to men. It is all about getting rid of all the brainwashing that says that our value needs male validation and that our life’s goal should be a man’s ‘love’. This entails turning our back to malestream culture and values and creating/feeding an alternative.

      • Sabine

        Hear hear!

      • I agree wholeheartedly with everything you say.

        I think one of the greatest challenges for girls and women is the fact that, as another commenter has said, it’s hard to get to lunchtime without being exposed to some airbrushed pornographic image of a female sexual object.

        The act of seeing – of consuming those images imprints on us in very powerful ways (especially young people). I think women need to actively STOP LOOKING.

        I know I have kidded myself that I can look and that my critical mind and awareness will protect me from the impacts of the images. It’s not the case. I recall being at a three week retreat where there happened to be no mirrors (this was not intentional). When I was travelling home, feeling fantastic, I remember going into the airport shop to kill time and looking at a wall of magazines with images of women on the cover. I could feel myself getting smaller, feeling tired; all of that good richness I had taken in starting to drain away. Even though I could name what was happening it was still happening.

        Of course, the effort required to Not Look is huge and you’re bound to fail if you live in proximity to technology, (so, like, all of us). But I think trying is an important piece of making us stronger and more resistant to this particular form of social control.

        • marv

          These feminists share your proposal to avert your eyes. Men need to do it too. tohttp://radfemimages.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/media-exposure-as-harmful-cultural-practice/

          • Thanks for that link, marv!

            From the article:

            “If media imagery really does function as politicized torture — and I think there is excellent evidence that it does — then it is harmful and serves its political purpose well whenever girls and women are exposed to it. There is no safe level of exposure, and no way to “observe” it objectively without being harmed by it”

            That’s the thing. I think that critical viewing is extremely limited in its ability to protect us from the imprint of the image. It’s really challenging, especially in cities, to practice media hygiene. For me it means spending a lot more time enjoying music, radio and the written word.

  • derrington

    Sexual media and the non sexual media both require that women are perfect fuck object material before they are allowed to participate in a male led society that has allocated them that space and that role. To see it as anything else is to beat us up for a set of rules we didn’t make up. Feminism in the 70s was all about not shaving off your body hair or fitting in with male led ideas of beauty – and what was the response from male society – calling us nazis and other hate speech. That is the reason for women’s relentless, neurotic self policing – it to fit in to a society which is not based on our equal humanity, but our willingness to accept the role of fuck object and then as we get older – fuck off object.

    • Sabine

      “…and then as we get older – fuck off object.”

      Absolutely!

  • Aidan Brumsickle

    I just want to jump in before other guys come and start spreading bullshit. I don’t doubt this article in the least. As a man I obviously don’t know firsthand the pressures on women, but I’ve definitely seen the ridiculous burger porn ads on TV, and I’ve seen the vile language used against any woman online (especially YouTube) who dares to weigh more than say 140 lbs.

    I’ve also seen men who pretend to be fat-positive, but really only care about their fetish, telling larger women online who have no interest in stuff like feederism that they need to gain weight or that they have to eat XYZ. How is that any different?

    It’s unfortunate, since society also has the problems of the proliferation of quick, easy and tasty junk food as well as sedentary binge watch Netflix lifestyle, but fixing these is so much more complicated as long as they’re tied to these sociological issues of women’s bodies and the quick moral judgment of fat people.

    • Lola

      By “sociological issues of women’s bodies” you mean “male gaze policing the bodies of women in order to make them feel like shit if they don’t have a forever young porn star look while keeping them out of important stuff such as politics, business, the law etc, right? So, yeah, I see what you mean.

      • Aidan Brumsickle

        Yes, that’s what I meant. Re-reading my comment, it’s a bit more ambiguously worded than I realized.

  • The Real Cie

    I remember all this shit and wouldn’t go back to it again for anything. I still have issues with my disordered eating pattern when I’m going through a depressive period. (I have type 2 bipolar disorder.) I became bulimic at twelve and yo-yo dieted up until I was 45, hating myself the whole time, calling myself names like “fat pig.” Fortunately, I discovered size acceptance, fat positivity, and health at every size, or I’d still be doing that at almost 50.
    I was completely celibate for more than 15 years. Recently something happened which I never expected to happen again: I found someone. Fortunately, no bullshit this time. He’s a 61 year old widower who is not interested in a nineteen year old hairless cat with fake boobs. He knows what I really am and is fine with it–likes it, even. He knows I don’t shave down yonder and never will, and that’s perfectly cool. He doesn’t care one way or another about my weight; in other words, he’s not a chubby chaser (never could abide that sort, I am not someone’s fetish) he’s just a guy who happens to like me, and I happen to be chubby. His kind is few and far between, though. I certainly never expected to find one like him.
    Those Carl’s Junior ads are the grossest ever. First time I was exposed to that crap, I was having dinner at Applebees (a family restaurant, mind) with my son and my mother. My son is a twenty-four year old straight guy, and he found the ads offensive as well. You can damn well bet that when we want a greasy burger fix, we ain’t getting ours from Carl’s Junior.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I hate that so many women and girls suffer the way you have — hating their bodies for years on end… Though I have never suffered from an eating disorder, I certainly have my own struggles with body hatred. I’m glad you’ve managed to escape despite pressures from all ends.. (I’m also glad you found someone 🙂

  • This is so damn true. I used to get so many compliments from guys for being a girl with a healthy appetite when I was thin. Now that I’m fat no one says a word.

    They don’t want to see the effort because they don’t want to be reminded that their view of women is horribly oppressive. And that’s the biggest oppression of all – not only to we have to embody their fantasy, we have to pretend that it was ours all along, our nature, our true being.

    Seriously is there any other oppressed group who has this added pressure to deny/embrace their oppression in this way? I don’t think so. They want all the benefits of being oppressors and none of the guilt. So the urge is not just to gain compliance, but total ownership of women’s minds so that we actually believe that we do want it ‘for ourselves’. Majorly fucked up.

  • Denise

    [please read my full comment]

    While I agree with the article here, I am seeing a disturbing trend on Feminist Current where you talk MORE about women’s practices and habits than you do about men. Like, you’ll say men are “dummies” but then you’ll go on a diatribe about the stupid things women are doing. And then, right near the end of the post, you always have this, “well, i don’t blame women for doing this” attitude after you just crucified everything they did.

    While your writing is funny, true, and relatable, I’m curious as to why you continuously critique every movement a woman makes while not talking really about men. Sure, you use what men “want” as a framework for the article, but you’re not really talking about men at all. In fact, most of your articles do that and I just think it’s an odd trend.

    How do you see the demands on women’s bodies changing? Every article you post seems to be a regurgitation of previous articles you’ve written and while they’re great, you’re not really saying anything new at all. It’s like you have a script that you use to talk about a new cultural text that pops up. We get it: porn culture is bad, dangerous, and unhealthy. We get it at this point…especially on Feminist Current where most us are already here because we agree with you. But, I’m finding myself to be getting a tad bit bored. I can guess what you’re going to say about a new cultural trend because you’ve already said it before, right?

    You offer no solutions for moving forward which I think is quite troubling. In the way you write your article, it seems like you’re trying to suggest that shit isn’t going to change because it’s just so bad. Just look through some of the past articles you’ve written on the site. There are no solutions..there is nothing to help us move forward. You’re just describing what the climate has been like. So, I’m wondering: how do you see this changing? Is it problematic that we continue to view everything from the “male gaze” because the male gaze will NEVER change, meaning your critiques about women’s practices through the male gaze will never change. It’s almost like you need the male gaze to exist in order for Feminist Current to stay afloat because you talk more about that male gaze than anything else. I don’t know…maybe it’s lucrative to talk about the male gaze because then you can become an “expert” like Gail Dines and make a reputation out of it, but I’m just suspicious of feminists who make money from the male gaze but don’t offer any solutions that can dismantle the male gaze.

    Thank You.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “While your writing is funny, true, and relatable, I’m curious as to why you continuously critique every movement a woman makes while not talking really about men. Sure, you use what men ‘want’ as a framework for the article, but you’re not really talking about men at all. In fact, most of your articles do that and I just think it’s an odd trend.”

      I don’t critique every movement women make. I critique the social and cultural expectations women are taught to live up to. I also, yes, talk about the way women behave and the ‘choices’ women make within a context of capitalist patriarchy in, yes, a critical way, but I 1) include myself in those criticisms, and 2) honestly think it’s important for us to think about the choices we make and why. If we aren’t doing that (i.e. thinking about the choices we make, the context within which those choices are made, and why we make said choices), I don’t think we will ever be able address the real problem or effect change.

      In terms of solutions, it doesn’t seem realistic to offer a solution at the end of each and every blog post. The problem is patriarchy and capitalism and we need to fight that through politics. Would you like me to tell you to vote for your local socialist feminist candidate at the end of each post? Change happens slowly and over time. It happens by changing people’s minds and changing the way we see the world around us. That’s what I’m trying to do in my little part of the internet — change the way we look at the world and the way we see and understand the ‘choices’ we and other women (and men) make.
      In any case, I do believe I have suggested a number of times that men stop consuming porn… I think that’s a pretty helpful suggestion, personally…

      I also suggest, in this post, that it isn’t particularly helpful for women to pretend as though they achieve perfection effortlessly — to deny that it/femininity takes time and work and money. I encourage the shattering of the illusion.

      Men read this blog too. Like, normal men. The hope is that a few of them will ‘see the light,’ as it were. I know that people’s minds are changed by reading feminist writing. Mine has. Probably most of us here came to feminism through reading the work of other feminists. I know from the feedback I get here that many people have, for example, gotten behind the Nordic model due to learning about it here on this very website. Does that not count as ‘offering a solution’? Changing minds as well as legislature? You know that Canada recently approved a bill that will criminalize the purchase of sex, right? To me, that’s a pretty big deal. And a lot of feminists worked very, very hard to get idea on the table — myself included. Maybe you missed all that.

      The fact is that there is no one solution. There is a bunch of stuff we can/could all do but we can’t all do it all. We pick our battles. There is a bigger picture here… And not many easy, one-step solutions.

      And no. The path I’ve chosen as a feminist writer isn’t lucrative and it will never be lucrative. Do you truly believe that ‘talking about the male gaze’ is ‘lucrative’? Like, you know how media works, right? You know who gets the big bucks? You just watched that Carl’s Jr. ad, right? It’s the ‘sex sells’ folks who are making money off of the male gaze… Not me.

      Anyway, if you’re bored, that’s totally fine. You can’t win em all and no one’s forcing you to stay here. Best of luck.

      • Geeze Meghan, where do you get off making all that money off the male gaze and not fixing the world and doing feminism wrong and blogging wrong and failing to entertain Denise? Chrissakes, girl, if you’re going to go around writing blogs for free, you’d better be prepared to have sexism fixed by the close of each instalment.

        Honestly, what a presumptuous, ignorant comment (from Denise, I mean). Please keep sharing your amazing writing, your incredible wit and your rich insightful thoughts with us. I am so grateful to you for your work here.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I invented the male gaze just so I could have something to blog about, tho…

          • Oh, it was you? You clever little scamp!

          • Meghan Murphy

            Don’t tell!

      • Rchen

        Well there are some of us who didn’t know much about feminism outside of lame fun feminism until Feminist Current changed that. I think that definitely counts as solving some problems. Thanks Meghan! You opened my eyes to so much!

        • Meghan Murphy

          Thanks Rchen!

    • derrington

      Wow … God Meghan, now its up to you and your blog to achieve what the whole of the UN, WHO and world leader’s cant – end violent discrimination against women and girls … preferably in neat three part sections at the end of each teach in tutorial. Next week you can tackle global warming and the week after biological extinction of species. Anyone else got any suggestions for tricky topics SuperMurph can take on and solve with the flick of a keyboard?!!!!

      • Meghan Murphy

        Ha!

    • Sabine

      “While I agree with the article here, I am seeing a disturbing trend on Feminist Current where you talk MORE about women’s practices and habits than you do about men. Like, you’ll say men are “dummies” but then you’ll go on a diatribe about the stupid things women are doing. And then, right near the end of the post, you always have this, “well, i don’t blame women for doing this” attitude after you just crucified everything they did.”

      You seem to be missing the vital point of feminism here: WOMEN ARE GOING TO HAVE TO LIBERATE THEMSELVES!!!! Do you think it’s men who are going to do this for us??? Nope; therefore we need to be informed.

      So, yeah, by talking about how we as females are often unwittingly perpetuating the circumstances we find ourselves in we are raising our awareness. It’s certainly NOT about crucifying women but offering up ideas about how we as women can go about dismantling the cages we have been unwittingly helping men to build around us. Unpalatable? Maybe. Tough shit.

      Reading Meghan’s articles and the insanely articulate and wise words of so many feminist commenters on here has had a huge impact on my life. I don’t just let things slide now that I did before. I don’t just cave into the fear of not being accepted or desired and go ahead with practices that always left me feeling shallow and hollow. We NEED to be discussing ourselves and our lives and how patriarchy affects US because that is what we KNOW. How you can say Meghan never talks about men is beyond me!

      Until we can dismantle the male gaze within US there is no hope but this is precisely what Meghan is continually flagging up and by God it has resonated within me. I am not going to wait around for men to change. I am changing myself. And thank you to Meghan and so may others here for igniting this flame within me.

  • a sister peeve is the idea that “healthy” = thin & thin = “healthy.” i’m one of those “naturally thin” women & i’m always honest when asked how i do it: ulcerative colitis. i shit blood on the regular. during my worst flare ups, when i’m on a total liquid diet and still shitting for half my waking hours, my face looks like a skull, walking from point a to point b is a challenge, and men & women alike comment on how great i look. o_O

    • jin

      i’m sorry you suffer through this too. i also have colitis, and have my severe weight loss reinforced as a positive by others (including complete strangers). i’ve started relying to all unsolicited opinions about my appearance with ‘my appearance is none of your business’.

      wondering if you’ve internalised the compliments? in my most honest moments i notice slight relief when i feel a flare-up coming on (‘i’m going to lose weight again!), followed immediately by guilt.

      wishing you health and strength!

      • Oscillot

        Ugh, this is horrible. I’m sorry you’ve both gone/are going through that. I don’t have colitis, but I have suffered from anxiety that has left me unable to eat without vomiting, and hence lost a lot of weight quite quickly (from a small start, too). I remember how angry I felt the first time one of the staff at my college complimented me on how much better I looked now I was ‘less chubby’ (‘chubby’ here being 120, at 5ft 6, I shit you not). I mean… what, I’m glad my suffering has made me more aesthetically appealing to you? It’s pretty galling to be met with those gleeful ‘oh well aren’t you so slim!’ comments when you’ve spent the entire morning puking bile after two days being unable to eat.

  • What can young women today do to stand up to that crap? Fortunately, traipsing around after the kids in the Québec spring marches, I saw a lot of young women who didn’t plaster themselves with makeup – and of course, like the young men, they looked just fine anyway, with their beautiful young skin…

    This phenomenon is also related to a kind of macho eating that is found among young and youngish men, and which has become popular on a lot of food and eating sites, in particular those devoted to bacon and other fatty foods as some kind of “defiance” to healthful eating.

    Fratboy food… which often winds up causing men serious ills in middle age.

    In fairness, girls and women who always natter on about their diets are annoying as well; one encounters that a lot when working in a mostly-female group.

    Fortunately I’ve never seen that repulsive ad. It would be very easy to do a parody of it with a couch potato acting thus in his or her environment, but as you say, it would be cruel, and once again mocking overweight people.

  • Mostly.Generic

    I think the issue is not so much about “men being stupid” and wanting picture perfect women who don’t require any maintenance to stay that way. But about media in general and publicity specifically, exposing all of us to images of abnormal human perfection so much that we all become detached from average human beauty. Pornography is also a culprit, but I would argue that mainstream sexualized publicity, exactly like the one you posted, has a bigger impact because everyone is exposed to it during childhood, to a much greater degree than pornography.

    This constant exposure essentially warps our judgment of what is acceptable in terms of physical beauty, leading to sometimes visceral repulsion when people see things which they’re not used to (hair, love handles, stretch marks, scars, skin imperfections, etc). Being horrified by imperfections in such a visceral way is not pleasant nor is it something one can just wave away with a thought. It takes time and exposure to images of normal imperfections to re-establish normal standards of beauty in our perceptions.

    I don’t think it’s logical to specifically hold “men” up at the stake for this problem because they are victims of this media/publicity issue (albeit lesser ones than women, I totally agree). Most men won’t understand this problem because they don’t see any issue with finding thin women beautiful and fat ones ugly; with wanting what they perceive as being “nice” and “pretty”. If they don’t understand, it’s not because they are stupid, but rather because they simply don’t have the data necessary to form an understanding and because their frame of reference for “average beauty” is skewed by sexualized & idealized media.

    If you
    […] can’t fault women for participating in a selfie-slash-porn culture they didn’t choose […]
    and by “participating” we can understand: buying products advertised with sexualized ads, thereby giving them economic power…

    Then I don’t see how it’s logical to fault men as a category, for a culture most of them didn’t choose either, simply because they happen to be the main target group of sexualized media.

    Edit: html tag fail… previous post can be deleted.

    • Lee

      I agree to some extent. I think women are more aware of it not being really real, though, whereas men don’t know girls can grow up having hairy toes or whatever, and don’t understand the palpable, dead-weight type of self-loathing girls and women grow up with for ‘imperfections’ like eyebrows (a lot of the time, anyway).

      I think people’s ideas of beauty, the types of women who were considered attractive, in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s are a good case study for this. Go watch Soul Train, for example and look at the couples. A lot of them even dressed the same.

      • Lee

        I just want to clarify my comment a bit if that’s OK. What I’m trying to say is that even if women and girls ‘buy in’ to the culture at large, go along with it, and are therefore ‘culpable’, they’re not consuming it in the pure-fantasy way that men do. The reason ‘celebrities without makeup’ is so popular with teenage girls, for example, is because they know it’s a fake, photoshopped, carefully crafted product, even if they haven’t been explicitly told so. Men do not seem to want to take any responsibility for educating themselves, changing their consumption habits, and actually valuing people above sexual cartoons. I remember a man saying that growing up with Playboy left him disappointed with every real woman he had ever had sex with. Sure, I can see how that could happen, but it’s also on him to look at what he values and why. What he even finds attractive, ‘naturally’ and what he was indoctrinated into believing was attractive.

        Also, historical images of women certainly contained impossible ‘perfection’ for the times, but you would see a lot (A LOT) more real women as well, which counteracted the idea that every woman should meet that ridiculous ideal to be valuable. If someone made a media project just simply showing a random selection of images or clips from different eras, ours would uniquely stand out for the fascist (IMO) dictate handed down from so-called experts that people only want to see ‘perfect people’ in media. It’s simply not true, people were quite happy to see real, old, fat, ugly women of all types of personalities on TV, in film, in print, etc. though they were still enamored (though I would say not as much) with beauty. Beauty had a place is I guess what I’m saying, and I think it’s hard for both sexes who are younger than a certain age to even imagine what that was like.

    • “I don’t see how it’s logical to fault men as a category, for a culture most of them didn’t choose either”

      Yeah we are products of our culture but we also perpetuate it or we don’t. Not all guys buy into the porn/victoria secret fuck doll demand, just the lazier more self indulgent, narcissistic ones. Some people are capable of seeing others’ humanity, no matter how much advertisers work to blind us to it. Some guys do “choose” to be dickheads and the responsibility lies primarily with them for that.

      And calling them “victims” of this shit is really a bit of a stretch. I mean if men are such victims of the culture that men largely control, perpetuate and profit from, at least they have enough economic and physical resources (not starving themselves or wasting money on cosmetics and cosmetic procedures, not overcoming PTSD from sexual assault in nearly the same numbers as women, and so on) to pull together some support groups to counter their “victimhood”. But most of them just don’t want to, because the truth is, this shit puts them at an advantage. “they are victims of this media/publicity issue”, my ass.

      • Mostly.Generic

        Yeah we are products of our culture but we also perpetuate it or we don’t. Not all guys buy into the porn/victoria secret fuck doll demand, just the lazier more self indulgent, narcissistic ones. Some people are capable of seeing others’ humanity, no matter how much advertisers work to blind us to it. Some guys do “choose” to be dickheads and the responsibility lies primarily with them for that.

        I see that we agree on that point :). So we must also agree on the point that the title is not logical in saying “Men are stupid” because “Not all men” and because a lot of women also buy into that culture.

        And calling them “victims” of this shit is really a bit of a stretch. I mean if men are such victims of the culture that men largely control, perpetuate and profit from, at least they have enough economic and physical resources (not starving themselves or wasting money on cosmetics and cosmetic procedures, not overcoming PTSD from sexual assault in nearly the same numbers as women, and so on) to pull together some support groups to counter their “victimhood”. But most of them just don’t want to, because the truth is, this shit puts them at an advantage. “they are victims of this media/publicity issue”, my ass.

        I did say they were lesser victims then women because yes, in some ways, they do benefit from this culture. But they are victims nonetheless because this unhealthy culture is so pervasive that by the time they can realize they’re in it, it’s already polluted their mind to a point where it’ll never completely go away. Yes, you can fault them for perpetuating it, but for a lot of them, it’s passive perpetuation of exactly the same type as women. People are just trying to “fit in with the crowd” and avoid being rejected, there’s a lot less fault with that rather than with producing the media which shapes us. THAT is the reprehensible action to target.

        The point is simply that arguing about this issue by using formulations which appear to fault the “large majority of men” misses the point. It’s peasants fighting peasants while the lords spectate. It even further misses the point to have this title when the article actually argues about faults from men AND women, which is a much more accurate assessment.

        And please, no need to bring your ass in this discussion :). I daresay neither donkeys nor buttocks are useful in online commenting.

        • “The point is simply that arguing about this issue by using formulations which appear to fault the “large majority of men” misses the point. It’s peasants fighting peasants while the lords spectate.”

          No, MG, you are missing the point.

          The blog post addresses the behaviours of both men and women in a poisonous misogyny-driven dance from which women measurably suffer more than men. Yes, being an asshole is a form of suffering, but drawing any sort of equivalency between men’s enculturated tendency to dehumanize half the human race and what women experience in trying to adapt to a culture that see them as less than human is irrelevant. If the culture makes you stupid, as per the title of the article, then do something about it instead of whining about how the person who states this fact is doing it wrong.

          Upthread Denise faults Meghan for criticizing women’s participation in the culture. Women are victims, she says, and should not be held accountable. You are saying there’s too much focus on men’s roles – we’re all victims of spectating “lords”. You are using a rigid rendering of class division to abdicate any responsibility for participating in and re-creating social inequality and then with the other side of your mouth you castigate Meghan for over-generalizing.

          To complain that a feminist is dividing and conquering by naming what is going on, by speaking to the way in which damaging conventions are being perpetuated, is unhelpful – that is, if you have any interest in seeing this crap stop. But I’m guessing that’s exactly what you do not want.

          Based on what you have written, I’m guessing that you ultimately want to keep the little slice of the pie you currently enjoy at the expense of others. You come to this thread in the typical fashion of high-handed-doodery and presume to tell Meghan Murphy, one of the most respected feminists in the blogosphere, that she’s doing feminism wrong: she’s got the strategy all wrong and – look! – her semantics are not without teeny holes you can pick at. – “Don’t say “men” – yeah, it’s the majority but don’t say “most men”, it’s the ones who make media not the ones who consume and follow it, blah, blah… ” Yes, we are addressing generalizations and to start picking the social critique apart by applying “logic” to the use of language in the way that you have is classic derail. You seem to be unaware of the fact that this sort of comment, infused with oblivious paternalism, is the sort of braying we’ve witnessed as frequently as we have the asinine meme of the hairless, burger-chomping, football-loving porn star that is under discussion.

          And FTR, I won’t be engaging in debates with you about whether “logic” is the distillation of truth or whether it’s an historically emplaced epistemology amongst many. In fact, I doubt I’ll engage with any more of your didactic emissions. I really could not be arsed.

      • Sabine

        I agree, lizor. The only time men feel they are “victims” of the pornified media is when they are seemingly denied their “right” to the bodies of women matching up to the “ideal”. (Elliot Rodger, anyone?) I’m sorry if my heart doesn’t bleed…this is simply incomparable to the often horrific effects on the female population.

  • Arthur

    I am glad that you are breaking the line that men usually refuse to see. So many of us men are caught up in fantasy land and to even more of my dislike, have trouble looking at themselves and saying oh maybe i as a man am not perfect. HOWEVER, to go out and say that every women you see eating a hamburger and fries is”faking it” or “who are you kidding” to a girl who may well just be a foodie is ridiculous. My girl friend eats healthy and runs twice a week but you best believe that she eats a couple of cheat meals a week with me. Sometimes im the one getting the salad and chicken and she gets the hot wings with onion rings. SHE LOOKS FINE. and has been doing this for our whole relationship so theres nothing staged about it. Do not assume that all women are like you or even the ones in your friend group because it seems to me that you have also created a fantasy for yourself.

    • jin

      aren’t you assuming that the author is wrong because your girlfriend may behave differently?

      why do you think the sample you provided (1 woman) is more telling than her lived experience as a woman? it seems to me the only fantasy here is created by you.

    • Sabine

      I don’t recall Meghan saying EVERY woman who eats a hamburger is “faking it”. You’ve not read the article properly.

    • derrington

      You are inaccurate in your reading of the article. Meghan wasn’t talking about every woman faking it, simply the pressure that girls are under to starve themselves in private whilst eating normally when on show. This in some part goes to explain the huge rises in the past ten years of Bulimia and Anorexia, that if you put a sector of society under extreme pressure to be thin in order to be accepted as humanly viable, there will be some girls that interpret that as the thinner I make myself, the more people will be happy with me. Its an extremely toxic value to bring girls up with. I’m not sure of the value of your assessment of your own girlfriend’s motivation since you seem to be the one assuming this is not staged. Have you asked her? I was very skinny when I was young so I’m not saying she is or isn’t, just saying dont assume anything on someone else’s part.

  • Sabine

    I remember a guy I was seeing being horrified to see me plucking my eyebrows. He pretty much outright said it ruined his fantasy, like he was squeamish or something. He also didn’t want to see me in the process of ‘getting ready” for the same reasons. God knows how he would have reacted to seeing me shaving my legs! Or pubes!!! Needless to say the wanker wasn’t in my life for very long…

  • Stephie Smith

    That’s the last time I ever eat at Carl Jr’s. Disgusting add.

  • em em em

    until we destroy the idea that women’s worth equals her ability to attract men, liberation seems distant. there are multi-billion dollar industries (pornography/cosmetic surgery/beauty) which exploit women. men need to wake the fuck up already!

    • Lee

      We also need to look at why the penultimate of an attractive WOMAN is a ‘just barely’ 18-year-old girl/young woman who has a baby face and no real life experience. Very uncomfortable area for most people to face.

      • Sabine

        Yes, Lee. And the creepy obsession with female virgins. Did you know there was a “countdown” in the Sun Newspaper (I use that term loosely) a few years ago marking the days left until Emma Watson (Hermione in Harry Potter) turned 16 and became “legal”. This is the most widely read tabloid in the UK….

        • Lee

          I knew about the widespread countdown(s) for the Olsen Twins* to turn 18, but not the one for Emma Watson.

          *Most people only knew them from when they were actors as toddlers. I can’t imagine in the slightest (what-so-ever) counting down the days until some child actor who was only known for waddling around in diapers on some TV show turned 18 so he could be legally doable, especially if he looked at least 5 years younger than he actually was.

          EVERYTHING IS FINE.

          • Meghan Murphy

            MEN ARE DISGUSTING. (Take note MRAs — PROOF of what feminists REALLY THINK)

          • Sabine

            I also remember the deeply inappropriate and outright pedophiliac comments (from “regular guys”) flying around about Natalie Portman when she starred in Leon years ago. SHE WAS TWELVE.

        • derrington

          As a fellow UK dweller, the Sun first scouted Sam Fox, the first topless model to achieve super stardom, whilst she was at school and got her parent’s details from her school. Her father was her pimp/manager and she later sacked him when she found out he was embezzelling money from her on an industrial scale. She became a lesbian (in her words), when she got fed up with men living off her. Another girl I knew modelled for the News of the World aged 13. Sexism makes men see females as fuck objects, whatever their age, hence the policeman’s comments in Rotherham when confronted by five adult males plying a 13 year old with drink and raping her – arrest the girl for underage drinking and call her a slut. The rapists? Let them go as we don’t want to offend their community … which is male led too. The reasons justifying sexism are myriad (complex I believe the expression is) but the outcome is exactly the same, females are beneath the law, males are above it.

          • Sabine

            Yes. Beneath the law and beneath contempt.

  • Joe

    Speaking as a dummy myself, I feel it is very evident that women’s bodies are far more policed than men’s, and our society ties a woman’s worth to her body moreso than a man’s worth to his body. Of course, attractive men have some measure of privilege over unattractive men, but the difference is that men can be valued for qualities that have nothing to do with looks, whereas what a woman looks like is always considered important. Take actors, for instance. I can think of a good many male actors who are successful despite lacking conventional beauty. They’re not necessarily ugly, but few are commenting on the dashing good looks of Steve Buscemi or Jonah Hill. Being attractive is virtually a prerequisite for being a female actor, though, and the mean age of female actors is also lower than that of males.

    We also see how females receive more comments on their appearances in arenas where it simply isn’t relevant. Look at a Lisa Randall YouTube video, and men will be talking about how hot she is. Nobody calls Bill Nye hot, because he doesn’t need to be hot to be valued. Look at how the media likes to pick apart how Hillary Clinton dresses and likes to paint her as a masculine bitchy ballcrusher because she wears pantsuits. Nobody talks about the sartorial inclinations of John Boener, or how he should dress to appear “warmer” to the American public. Studies have also shown that females white-collar employees’ evaluations remark on their presentations and demeanor far more than males’ do. Research also shows that overweight and obese women suffer more penalties in the workplace than overweight and obese men.

    Of course, we also see that women tend to be even more critical of female bodies than men are, but trying to use this fact to absolves males of responsibility is a red herring; internalized oppression is still part of a system that benefits one group over another, and it doesn’t particularly make a difference that the oppressed group perpetuates it when men end up the beneficiaries.

    I am very sympathetic to the emphasis placed on female bodies and how this affects their cultural value. I don’t think women should be marginalized for choosing not to remove natural body hair, or not wearing makeup, or not dressing “femininely” enough, or dressing too “provocatively.” Everyone should be judged only on relevant merits.

    However (yeah, here’s the “however”), while I feel that there definitely needs to be an awareness of the body regulation society disproportionately places on women, I feel that it is a mistake that so much of the dialogue, instead of focusing on how demands placed on women affect their freedom and autonomy, focuses on how it affects their ability to attract a mate. “Men only want women who are thin, and that’s bad.” It’s only bad if you want men who only want women who are thin. If you measure a woman’s achievement by how many many men personally find her attractive– which seems like the opposite of what a movement to liberate women from the demands of men would do.

    It just reminds me of those men who declare women are dummies because they always go for the “assholes with abs” instead of “nice guys like me!” and act as if they are oppressed because they aren’t getting laid. Obviously, these situations aren’t completely analogous, but there is the common element of conflating lack of sexual interest from the opposite sex as oppression.

    When a woman is excluded from the social sphere because she doesn’t wear makeup or shave wax her upper-lip hairs, I see that as oppression. When a dude doesn’t want to date her for those same reasons, I don’t think her autonomy or worth has been infringed upon in any way.

    • Derrington

      Maybe the dude gets his idea of what makes a woman attractive from that same set of social values so it is oppression of sorts. But in the end sometimes we all have to make compromises to the social group values as well as our own. Also, being a mother who has done with breeding im less caught up in the wish to find a mate. I think the pool of men that are up for the job of dad is certainly diminishing in size and quality as porn warps their relationships towards wonen and children.

  • C

    Thanks, M.

  • pisaquari

    I also think this has something to do with wanting to be considered “marriage material.” That sort of *I was born naturally this way so you don’t have to worry about me ever losing my “sex appeal”* It’s the genetic model, the Royal Blood of “Beauty.”

    But I must address the men readers now: Guys, truly, most of you are gay. Your only interest in women is through mechanisms of control or abuse. That will never amount to love or intimacy, ever. But goodness knows how much you respect each other, love to support each other’s interests, can sit comfortably on the couch with your guts hanging out empathizing about women oppressing you. You even run off on trips together! Aw.
    You don’t love Kate Upton. You love symbols of your control. Fuck off for a few hundred years–we’ll find you if we need you.

  • Stephie Smith

    Yup. Men need to wake up.

    Men are victims? Come on, Mostly. You think it’s pornography’s fault?

    Listen if men didn’t buy it, porn would disappear.

  • jo

    “This is, in large part, because men are dummies who live inside a fantasy world of their own creation.”
    THE TRUTH.

    Reminds me of the speculations of why 1800’s art critic John Ruskin wasn’t able to have sex with his wife: He was shocked and repulsed by the fact that she had pubic hair, unlike classical statues.
    The story might be incorrect but it’s basically what’s happening today. Men being attracted to man-made images and repulsed by natural women.

  • Tropicalia

    Never been to this site before and this is a pretty old article but I’ll comment anyway.

    I think men’s poor understanding of what women must eat to maintain a certain figure has more to do with the fact that men generally have to eat more than women because of height and muscle differences. How much you should eat also depends on your level of activity of course.

    I’m trying to eat more healthy so I have been thinking a lot about what I eat. I’m one of those ‘naturally thin’ people who would just eat whatever I wanted and this included lots of junk food. When I sat down to analyze what I ate I figured out that I unconsciously ate what I needed to maintain my weight. I believe that the majority of ‘naturally thin’ people just have small appetites so we eat less often throughout the day and have one or two big meals and we are satisfied for long periods of time by small snacks.

    The talk of porn and skinny women taking pictures with food made me think about feeder/gainer porn which is disturbing if you haven’t heard of it. Thankfully much less popular than those thin girls with pizza pics on Tumblr which I’ve only just learned about. At the end of the day I’m much more okay with porn than this writer seems to be. There’s weird and disturbing stuff out there but most of it is cool by me. Just like fantasy books and films can be entertaining fantasy sex books and films are entertaining to me.

    On the shaving stuff I’m pretty lackadaisical about it. I often do my legs and armpits but very rarely my bikini area. I was somewhat surprised to hear from a lot of women that they really like the feel of being freshly shaved but the most common feelings on it by my estimation is ambivalence so women just get used to doing it and don’t really think about it. I was just looking online for a new swimsuit and was annoyed that not many cute suits were made with boyshorts for the bottoms. I don’t mind the sporty looking ones but I might as well keep wearing my old swim shorts over my bikini. Maybe the market for them will increase soon because underwear with that cut is so common.

  • Maria

    I was taught very differently about eating habits – that eating “with gusto” is very un-ladylike. So I tended to eat less on dates to prove I was lady-like. I didn’t have the confidence to eat what I wanted and as much as I wanted.
    But men who care about women’s eating habits suck and are sexist and controlling.

  • Audrey Black

    I think people who claim they are naturally thin are either lying, or overestimating their daily calorie intake to exercise ratio.

    Yeah, no. I’m a naturally thin person and I don’t exercise often. This was true even when I used to regularly eat junk food. It’s called having an ectomorph body type. Educate yourself.